Merry Christmas all! Looks like I’ve been randomly selected to write the Christmas blog. How nice. I want to start by wishing you – on behalf of all the staff – a blessed time of love, peace and joy. You all deserve it! You are such an amazing, wonderful, sweet congregation. We truly love to serve you. We brag openly to all who will listen about how special you are; how easy it is to give our best for you. We don’t have to smile through clenched teeth at our jobs – like those who serve tyrants of the most selfish kind.
So thank you for that. The environment of grace and love and acceptance that you have established at 1stPres has not come about by chance. A spring can occur anywhere, but it takes dedicated hard work to nurture that spring – over time – into a beautiful, cultivated oasis. And that is what you have done here. You have chosen your loving devotion – to put God and others first – and you have sown a crop worthy of the King. Now He has blessed you with a harvest of spiritual fruits for others to freely enjoy. Well done!!!
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Gal 5:22
Of these divine fruits, we of the Youth Group are in the midst of learning how to taste, eat, swallow, and absorb the full nutritional value of Peace. Letting peace reign in our lives is not easy. But as the Youth Group leader, I feel I have to be able to set the example. My biggest problem is my analytical thinking. There is much in this world that surrounds us and assaults our thoughts and convinces us that peace is an irrational choice. Foolishness even. So what if it is?
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom.” 1 Cor 1:25
God instructs us clearly to choose His Peace – even in the worst circumstances.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
As I have seen your hard work and dedication to producing a church that is worthy of its Leader, so I am inspired to commit myself to holding fast to God’s Peace in my life. Understanding that in both cases, it is a process. A process requiring frequent re-commitment and many hard, un-celebrated victories won within. But the value of the crop far exceeds the cost to produce it. Because how can you put a price tag on the relief from anxiety, stress and worry that comes from knowing peace with yourself, and peace with others, and peace with God?
I speak for all the staff in wishing you – regardless of your circumstances – the blessing of God’s Holy Peace this Christmas. For you – and for your families – and for all who walk through the doors of 521 Lakeside.